The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 13, 2011

Lamb: Oklahoma poised for great things

ENID — Oklahoma is poised for great things, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb said during a speech Monday to Enid Rotary Club.

Lamb, who was raised in Enid, said due to a number of actions taken by the Oklahoma Legislature during the past session, the state is on the road to beating Texas in economic development, as well as football.

“This was a historic legislative session. Policy and reforms we have worked for a long time were passed,” he said.

Among those were educational reforms that allow for the grading of schools just as students are graded. Starting next year, public schools in the state will be graded A, B, C, D or F, so parents will know how the schools their children attend are rated. Answering a question, Lamb said the schools will be graded on a matrix, involving test scores and a determination of whether schools are teaching at grade level. If schools graded F do not improve, they will be put on probation.

If a teacher is not teaching at grade level, he said, that teacher can be fired, thanks to the passage of legislation eliminating the old system that involved a series of appeals by the teacher.

“Students must read at grade level by third grade,” he said, “and we’ve ended social promotion.”

Social promotion is the practice of passing students so they would remain in the same grade with their peers.

During his talk, Lamb asked why Oklahoma should not be as competitive in economic development as it is in athletics. Establishing a business would be much easier with the “one-stop shop” system developed by the state. Oklahoma personal income tax rates also were lowered from 5.5 percent to 5.25 percent during the past session, he said.

He compared that with other states, such as Illinois, which are increasing income tax rates. Lamb said businesses such as Caterpillar and Sears are considering whether to leave Illinois. Among the things that impede business growth in Oklahoma, according to business owners, is workers’ compensation reform, he said, and the Legislature took a step toward that reform this session.

A new workers’ comp reform measure, written by state Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, was approved by the Legislature.

“We would not have got reform this year without Patrick Anderson. He is a tireless advocate for business,” Lamb said.

The state’s biggest opponent to increasing business is Texas, and Lamb wants the state to look at beating Texas economically, just like the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State look at beating them in sports. According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, 37 percent of all jobs created since 2009 were created in Texas. In non-farm jobs, 45 percent of all new jobs were created in Texas, and more people moved to Texas than to any other state.

“There are more Fortune 500 companies in Texas, than anywhere else,” Lamb  said. “We don’t tolerate second best in athletics, why do it in business?”

Still, Oklahoma is on the rise. Lamb said 95 percent of all Oklahomans either own or are employed by a small business. He asked his friends in Enid to give him advice.

Lamb is the son of Norman and Belva Lamb. He attended Enid High School and Oklahoma State University. He served six years in the state Senate before being elected lieutenant governor last year.

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